Turkey's disabled want their fellow citizens to pay more attention to their problems, prominent figures of the disabled community have said.
On the International Day of Persons with Disabilities - first introduced in 1992 - Turkish associations stress the importance of education in improving the lives of what the UN calls "the world's largest minority group."
"There should be a course on disabled people at schools," said Ziya Özden, chairman of Istanbul's branch of the Six-Point Blind People Association. Indeed, the UN has stated that disability issues had remained "largely invisible" throughout the world.
There are over 8 million disabled citizens in Turkey while more than 1 billion people in the world are living with some form of disability.
Many Turkish associations for the disabled organized programs and meetings on Wednesday to raise awareness over their daily preoccupations. Some 10 NGOs staged a rally in Istanbul's Sisli district. In addition, former Turkish football players, such as forward Hasan ŞaŞ, played against blind players in Istanbul district of Bakırköy.
Raising awareness for a day is simple, but turning it into continuous understanding is another matter, say prominent figures of the community, again stressing the need not only for education about disabilities but also for its accessibility to disabled children.
"Sometimes, families and their neighbors prevent a disabled person from having a proper education, thinking that their son or girl will not be successful," Lokman Ayva, chairman of the White Flag Association, told The Anadolu Agency.
Other than education, society as a whole is not in line with disabled people's needs, he continued.
The Turkish government and local administrations have taken many steps to better disabled people's lives in recent years.
For instance, last month, the parliament introduced a motion requiring all city buses to become disabled-friendly.
The government also introduced a public exam, exclusively for disabled people, to facilitate their access to state jobs.
There are close to 3,000 disabled people working in state jobs, according to the Turkish Family and Social Policies Ministry.
While acknowledging these "beautiful and important steps," Özden said disabled people should be more present in decision-making bodies in order to improve their well-being even further.
"Sometimes, improvements are not enough," he said.
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